Will Nichols writes on the BusinessGreen website about a new government report that provides disturbing, but not surprising, news from the UK on the current state of affairs of its domestic energy efficiency programmes.
Government energy efficiency plans ‘off-track’, official review warns
The government’s household energy efficiency programme is veering off track, according to a review of major projects run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).
The government’s domestic energy efficiency initiative aims to fit green improvements to one million homes by March this year, through the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) programmes.
However, data published in support of the 2015 Major Projects Authority (MPA) annual report, which dates back to last September, lists the initiative’s progress as ‘Amber/Red’, the lowest score of the 10 projects considered.
The assessment notes the one million home milestone was achieved in November, but adds, “the current delivery confidence reflects the need to shape a cohesive longer-term Programme in the new Parliament post-election”.
The report echoes widely held concerns across the energy efficiency sector that the Green Deal is struggling to deliver large scale improvements and the ECO scheme has been effectively watered down and is close to being completed.
The new report, published yesterday, also raises concerns about a number of other key DECC programmes, handing out an ‘Amber’ alert to the programme of electricity market reforms, the £1bn Carbon Capture and Storage commercialisation competition, the Renewable Heat Incentive, the planned nationwide rollout of smart meters, and the search for a nuclear waste storage site.
A further nuclear programme is seen as slightly ahead of schedule, while all data relating to the new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point was withheld, meaning it was not given a score on the report’s sliding scale.
The latest indication the home energy efficiency plan could be further off track is likely to lead to further criticism over both the government’s delivery of energy efficiency improvements and its plans for the sector.
The Green Deal scheme has come under fire from industry, which warned it was failing to drive improvements at a level needed to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions. Launched in 2013, the Green Deal fell well short of its target of 10,000 plans for improvements in the first year, but momentum has picked up in the last 12 months with over 14,000 plans now in the system.
The government’s handling of the ECO scheme has also faced scrutiny after target’s imposed on energy companies to make improvements to vulnerable households were weakened following Prime Minister David Cameron’s infamous alleged instruction to “get rid of the green crap” in a push to lower bills.
A DECC spokeswoman said that since September the energy efficiency programme had been put back on track, as a result of improvements and changes to the scoping definition.
“The programme met its target four months early of installing energy efficiency measures in 1 million homes by March 2015, keeping homes warm and bills low,” she added in an emailed statement. “As a priority the Government is currently considering the right long-term framework for the home energy efficiency market.”